25 January 2018
Munich
Reporter: Barney Dixon

EPO judge subject to “forced transfer”


A European Patent Office (EPO) staff member at the centre of an International Labour Organisation (ILO) ruling is being forced to transfer from the EPO’s Munich office to an office in The Hague.

Patrick Corcoran was suspended by the EPO in 2015, but later reinstated after the ILO ruling at the end of 2017.

In its ruling, the ILO tribunal questioned the impartiality of the EPO’s President Benoît Battistelli, stating that the president’s “participation in these proceedings has given rise to the unlawfulness of the individual decisions impugned with the tribunal”.

It said: “This situation, by itself, casts doubts on the President’s impartiality.”

The tribunal ruled that Corcoran be immediately reinstated in his former post, and be entitled to an award “moral damages in the amount of €15,000 euros, and to costs in the amount of €5,000 euros”.

In a letter addressed to the heads of delegations of the administrative council, the EPO’s Central Staff Committee said that the office had informed Corcoran he would be “permanently transferred in February 2018 to a post of senior expert in classification expressly created for him in The Hague”.

The committee argued that “transferring [Corcoran] to a country in which he had never lived is a further burden for him and his family”.

The committee also argued that the office “did not fulfil its duty of care by assessing medically whether the employee was fit for a transfer. For medical or personal reasons, the employee may have to refuse to be transferred and in such case the President may decide to terminate his service”.

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